09/25/2012 - Some of the top young scientific researchers in the country were recently chosen as Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences. The awards provide four years worth of funding, which will allow these 22 scientists to do innovative work in such areas as antibiotic-resistant infections, liver disease, cancer and evolutionary genetics.
The grants are meant to bolster these researchers’ work “when they are often most innovative,” said Rebecca Rimel, president of The Pew Charitable Trusts, noting that the program “has paid incalculable dividends due to our Scholars’ record of producing groundbreaking research.” Since the fellowships were established in 1985, nearly 550 grants totaling $130 million dollars have been awarded, and some Pew Scholars have gone on to win the Nobel Prize or become MacArthur Fellows.
“It’s a really humbling experience because the Pew Scholar community is such a highly accomplished group,” said Kathryn Wellen, an assistant professor in cancer biology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the 2012 recipients. Her research has centered on nutrient metabolism and how it may affect diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Gary Gibbons, a 1994 Pew Scholar who was just selected as director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said the fellowships encourage recipients to pursue research that is “perhaps a little bit riskier and more edgy than others. Getting the scholarship was incredibly influential on my whole life journey. It gives you the freedom to explore an idea that perhaps wasn’t quite ready for the usual mechanisms of funding.”
In July, four recent Pew Scholars received Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers from the White House: Valerie Horsley from the 2010 class, and Erica N. Larschan, Niels Ringstad and Georgios Skiniotis, all from 2011. The award is considered the highest honor the U.S. government gives to science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research.
For more on this class of Pew Scholars and a list of earlier recipients, go to www.pewscholars.org.